Daily Song Study

Brave Combo – Sixteen Tons

In songs on August 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Reinterpretation can be as important as the initial act of songwriting. Making a tune your own requires every bit as much attention to detail and compositional care, plus the consequences if you do it wrong will be negatively compared to the original.

I mentioned my friend Little Jack Melody earlier. The band he currently basses for, Brave Combo, are masters of rearrangement, as shown in today’s tune. Written by Merle Travis (although somewhat disputed by George Davis, who claims to have written a similar song beforehand) in 1946, it was a big hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955, and his version has become the definitive one.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to experiment. BC’s head honcho Carl Finch has reimagined it as a cumbia, and here it is sung by their saxophonist Jeffrey Barnes. It may not take Ford’s crown, but it definitely makes you listen. And dance.

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